As we hit mid-July, we are embodying a future that would have been unfathomable a year ago.
Here in the UK, the pubs have finally reopened. Knowing the British, most would have presumed this to be a day of utter carnage. What actually transpired was a much more subdued and tentative nod towards normality.
The truth is that we are all living in the shadow of the pandemic. The World Health Organisation have stated that the virus is still globally accelerating. And despite lockdown measures being lifted in many countries, the possibility of a second wave is very real.
In resigning ourselves to the permanency of the situation it’s good to take time to appreciate what positives we can.
One thing that has stood out to me has been the vital role of our parks and green spaces. At a time where the nation was housebound, local parks have been places of mental sanctuary and escape. For many it has been a lifeline through this crisis. For me personally, access to the park has massively contributed to my mental and physical wellbeing.
So for my final blog post in this series, I decided to take a week to sonically record my local park, looking at its changing moods and ambiences, as well as the impact of reduced noise pollution upon it.
Thanks for reading – I hope you enjoy!
Brockwell Park, London
I set up my stereo DPA blimp in a garden backing on to the park. Over the course of a week I made 10+ hours of recordings at various times of day. I wanted to capture dawn choruses, lazy mornings and social evenings. Some of my favourite recordings can be heard below:
I was so happy to have recorded a song thrush in London. Known for their repeating call, these songbirds are on the red list for UK conservation. I love the breadth of variation in the song. The repetitions really help you to appreciate the musicality. For me there’s something quite tropical about it.
With the lack of noise pollution, you can hear the call reflecting through the park and bouncing off the nearby houses. The other birdsong in the park also adds layers of dynamics that are so often masked.
This recording captures a lot of elements that I associate with the London lockdown. There’s a marked stillness to the air. We can make out every sound with precision. The hum of traffic feels muted and far-off. One solitary family make care-free fun, which somehow adds to the isolation.
On any typical pre-lockdown day the air would be vibrating with the drone of aeroplanes. There’d be passing voices and music, revving car engines, horns and a general sense of bustle. Although very welcome, the calm only serves to accentuate the sentiment that something is wrong.
As lockdown progressed, the park was the perfect place to watch social development. For many people it had become one of the only sources of face to face interaction that wasn’t through a webcam. I watched and participated as the creation of new social norms and adaptions happened in real-time. It is truly amazing how versatile society can be.
In this blustery recording we hear snatches of many different conversations over the wind blowing through the trees and the evening blackbird song.
I chose this recording because anyone who has lived in London is familiar with the blaring sirens which swirl about the city night and day. What I like about this is the sense of distance and direction which can be traced through the space, as the police car darts through the streets.
The distant bell is the park warden signalling the closing of the park for the night. During this period however, a side gate was left open. Many people chose to stay socialising until nightfall.
Now as the pubs have opened and new options for interaction arise, it is quite telling that many of us still feel the most safe and at home in our parks.